Some tenants and former employees of a subsidized housing organization are concerned about the direction it’s going.
Potential Place is a mental health organization that runs two apartment buildings in Calgary.
Stephanie Lovatt worked at the organization for 12 years.
In November of 2011, she says everything changed.
The executive director was suddenly "dismissed," and others followed, Lovatt said.
"It was like shock and awe — like our community was hit by a bombardment," Lovatt explained. "The incoming management, because they didn't understand what the clubhouse model was, they assumed everybody was being insubordinate."
In a clubhouse, people with mental illness aren't patients — they are members who for the most part, independently run the organization.
Lovatt along with some residents like Donna Hamer believe the new management has lost sight of the member-run philosophy.
"They don't have same mandate we do," Hamer said. "This is a place of hope in a community that cares. They are throwing that around like they're slamming it down our throats."
But Frank Kelton, Potential Place's Interim Executive Director, disagrees.
"The members participating in clubhouse since I've been on board and certainly for 6 or 7 months before that are delighted to be here — getting employment, going back to school," Kelton says. "From my perspective, the ship is not only stable, it's moving in the direction we want it to."
He also said the organization has addressed all the concerns.
"We had a series of town hall meetings, mitigated a lot of the angst and concerns and questions so I think we're at a place now where we have nothing but growth and positivity to focus on," Kelton explained.
Potential Place is not currently accredited as a clubhouse, but Kelton says it’s still being run as though it’s a clubhouse with intention of being re-accredited next spring.
Concerns of rent increases
But philosophy isn’t the only concern.
At least 12 residents are also worried about rent increases.
That’s because Potential Place plans to terminate its subsidy program in three months.
"Right now I pay $300. I'm going to have to pay $1,200," said Al Gosselin, who has lived at the apartment complex for six years.
Kelton says Potential Place will help tenants apply for subsidies to help pay for rent and will not evict anybody.